In 1984, three children walked into the woods surrounding the suburban estate they lived in; when they failed to come home, police and community came together to search for them. One of the children was found, standing paralyzed against a tree, wearing shoes that had been filled with blood. The boy is catatonic and when he finally wakes up in the hospital, he has no memory of what happened. Despite massive-scaled searches and an extensive police investigation, his two friends have never been found.
Twenty years later, that boy is now a detective on the Murder squad in Dublin; he finds himself involved in a murder case involving a 12-year-old girl whose body is found in those very same woods.
In In the Woods, Tana French entwines the story of the 20-year-old murder with this new murder; we meet both Rob Ryan, now a flawed adult, and his new partner Detective Cassie Maddox. I was pulled into the book immediately, and found it impossible to put down.
What did I love best about the book? In addition to French’s writing – and she writes very well – I enjoyed the relationship that Ryan and Maddox had with each other. There was an element of playfulness and fun that was a nice complement to the otherwise dark edges of the novel.
Which is why I enjoyed the first half of the book more than I liked the last half of the book. I don’t want to give anything away, but if/once you’ve read the book, I’m pretty sure you’ll know what I’m talking about.
I did spot “the big clue” right when it surfaced, long before the detectives themselves clued in and it became the beginning of the resolution. I also had a pretty good idea who the murderer to the main mystery was, and why, long before Ryan figured it out; I didn’t know how, though, which kept me racing to the end of this book.
I was definitely a little disappointed in the ending, but I can’t really say why without giving away too much. At the same time, though, it was a realistic ending in many ways. And oddly enough, the fact that I knew who the murderer was before it was spelled out actually meant that I wasn’t totally surprised at the way things ended.
Despite my disappointment, the writing is so well done, I find myself quite able to forgive the book its ending.
I enjoyed this book, and I’m looking forward to reading The Likeness.
Where to buy In the Woods:
Review copy details: published by Viking/Penguin Group, 2007, hardcover, 429 pages